I look nervously around the gym at the local Y and contemplate turning around and walking back out. The self defense class was clearly occupied by mostly women of varying ages. I counted three other guys in the room and one of those looks to be the instructor. The fact that I'm the only one sporting any visible bruises only add to my uneasiness.
I can sense my stepbrother walking up behind me even before I feel Finn's hand come to rest on my shoulder.
"Remind me why I am doing this again," I requested, not chancing looking over my shoulder at him.
"Because you want to feel safe and being able to defend yourself is the only way that is going to happen," Finn reminds me.
"This is embarrassing. I'm like the only guy here. Guys shouldn't have to be taking a self defense class."
"Most guys play sports and learn self defense by getting into scrapes growing up. You don't fit into either of those scenarios. Besides, you're not the only guy here and I'm taking the class with you."
"Yeah, out of pity."
Finn steps around me to stand in front of me. "No, I'm doing this out of concern. I can't be around to protect you all the time, especially when you go off to New York, but I don't ever want a repeat of the that night again or have something worse happen."
I'm saved from having to form a response by the instructor calling the class together. Still as Finn and I join the rest of the class forming a group around the instructor I find my thoughts wandering back to the incident Finn mentioned. I had no more desire to repeat the sequence of events than Finn. And my stepbrother is right. I don't feel safe after what happened, not even around Blaine. It's that realization that had prompted me to give into Finn regarding the self defense class because while most of the time I know Blaine will protect me just as fiercely as Finn, he showed me another side that night at Scandals. And while Blaine and I have made up, I know that the only way to really feel safe again is to know I can protect myself whatever the situation.
Still, I wished the events of that night had never happened.
Thankfully, the house is dark when I finally get home. My parents must still be out, or Dad would be up waiting for me to get home. Finn has probably already gone to bed.
Pulling the keys out of the ignition I reach up to wipe the tears from my face, wincing as my fingers brush over the bruise on my left cheek. The night definitely had not turned out the way I expected it to.
Stepping from the car, I headed for the house, wanting to feel safe again. Wanting to get rid of the chill that had taken over my body since the incident in the parking lot of Scandals. It wasn't long before I had gotten clean clothes and was in the shower, hoping the hot water would wash the dirty feeling away. Hoping that I could feel warm again.
When I finally stepped from the shower, I felt only marginally better. The fight with Blaine and the following proposition by the stranger at Scandals is still occupying my mind. Pulling on the sweat pants and oversized sweat shirt, which was technically Finn's but hadn't found its way back to him after I borrowed it a couple of months ago, I stepped from the bathroom. The air from the hallway felt cold after the steamed up environment of the bathroom. I had only taken one step through the doorway, my hand on the light switch, when I realized Finn was leaning against the wall opposite of the bathroom.
"I was starting to worry you might have slipped or something in there," Finn commented.
"No. I just needed a long shower," I reply, flipping off the bathroom light in the hope that Finn hasn't yet noticed the bruise. The only light we have is now coming from the open doors of our bedrooms at opposite ends of the hall.
I start toward my bedroom, mumbling a good night. When Finn reaches out for my arm, I instinctively jump back as his fingers brush my arm, pressing myself against the wall in an effort to put more distance between us. After tonight all my mind can register is danger despite the fact that I'm at home and the only one here is my stepbrother.
"Dude, chill," Finn says, clearly surprised by my reaction. There is a short pause before Finn takes a step closer to me. I know he's spotted the bruise and I turn my head away from him a bit in a vain attempt to hide it. "Kurt, what happened? Blaine didn't . . ."
The mention of my boyfriend's name breaks the tentative hold I had on my tears. I can feel them start to roll down my face again. Right now Blaine is the one I want to run to and seek comfort from but after our fight that isn't an option.
"I'm going to kill him," Finn says as he starts past me, toward the steps.
It takes a moment for me to realize what is going through Finn's head and when I do, I grab desperately for my stepbrother's arm.
"No, Finn! Blaine and I had a fight but the bruise isn't from Blaine. He didn't hit me!"
Finn turns. "Then what the hell happened?"my stepbrother asks.
I'm at a loss for words, not knowing where to begin. There's sneaking into a gay bar, talking with Karofsky, the whole incident with Sebastian, Blaine making a pass at me in the backseat and the following fight, the unwanted pass from a stranger and my escape. So much happened in such a short time and I feel overwhelmed.
And then I feel Finn's arms around me, pulling me close. For the first time since the stranger walked up to me in the parking lot, I suddenly feel safe. I allow myself to relax into his embrace, returning the hug. The tears are flowing freely now, and I don't care at this point. I need this release and though there was a time when I wouldn't let my guard down this much around Finn, our lives have changed enough that this is no longer a concern. Though he isn't the first person I would choose to tell my troubles to most of the time, I know Finn will be on my side now matter what.
I'm not sure how long we stood like that. The only concern that crossed my mind was that of our parents coming home and finding us like that. Finding me crying along with the bruise would only worry my father. It's a scenario that I'd like to avoid. I know I'm going to have to explain the bruise on some level, but I wanted to be calm and collected when I do. I want a chance to be able to convince him that it is no big deal. To partially shield him from the stress and ugliness that I have lived in fear of since I realized I was gay.
Eventually Finn loosens his hold on me. I want desperately to keep clinging to him but I don't. As much as I want comfort from someone else, need it really, I have never been one to demand it and I won't start now. To my surprise though Finn doesn't release me completely. Instead, he is moving to slip an arm around my shoulders as he leads me toward the steps. I'm not in the state of mind to protest at this time, so I go along with him.
Downstairs, Finn turns on lights as he leads me to the living room. He instructs me to sit on the couch, so I do, huddling into one corner of it as Finn places an afghan over me. I'm left wondering what he is up to when he heads for the kitchen. Soon he is returning, an ice pack wrapped in a dish cloth in his hands. After making sure I've applied the ice pack to my bruised cheek he is gone again. I rest my head against the back of the couch listening to the faint sounds of Finn moving around the kitchen, idly wondering what my stepbrother is up to.
It isn't long until I get my answer as Finn returns to the living room. He hands me a warm glass of milk before sitting down on the couch next to me. I'm touched by the gesture as warm milk is something that I introduced him to, bringing him a glass of warm milk at night in an attempt at bonding when our parents first got married. I did it every night for the first couple of months and then once we started talking more and grew closer it had become something that reserved for those nights that I knew he was troubled about something. The warm milk has become a 'talk to me' gesture, but this was the first time that Finn has been the initiator.
Touched by the gesture but still not knowing where to start I take a sip of the milk instead. The taste and feel of the warm liquid as I swallow it does little to chase the chill I still feel away. I can feel Finn's eyes on me, and looking up I can see him looking at me in concern. He's waiting for me to open up, and though I really want to tell him about tonight, I can't figure out how to put my jumbled thoughts and feelings into any coherent string of words.
"I don't know where to start."
Finn nods at the statement. I think that maybe he's just going to let the whole matter drop completely but instead he speaks up. "Then let me help you. Where were you tonight?" Finn asks.
"Blaine and I went to Scandals."
"Scandals? The gay bar?" Finn asks.
I nod in reply, deciding that I only hear surprise in his voice, not condemnation or disgust.
"How did you get in?"
"A new Warbler at Dalton that Blaine met when he visited Dalton," I reply, not able to bring myself to say Sebastian's name. "He got us fake ID's so we could get inside."
If Finn is shocked by that admission, which I have to admit he probably is, he doesn't voice it. "Is this guy the reason you and Blaine had a fight?" he asks instead.
I find myself nodding again. "Sebastian likes Blaine, and not just as a friend, I know he does. Blaine insists he's just a friend but I can't help but think that Blaine would rather be spending time with Sebastian than with me as he isn't as uptight."
"So that's why you snuck into a bar - to show Blaine you could have fun too."
"Stupid, huh?" I comment, lowering the ice pack and tossing it gently onto the coffee table.
"Unnecessary maybe, but not stupid," Finn says, causing me to glance up at him as I take another sip of the warm milk. "The guy is crazy about you, Kurt. He changed from a school that he felt safe at that enforced a no bullying policy, to one where he knew he would face people who wouldn't accept who he was, and he did that for you, Kurt."
"I know. It's just when I see him with Sebastian, I become so scared that I'm going to lose him. That I can't compete with him."
"So you and Blaine got in a fight over him spending time with Sebastian?"
"Not directly. I mean I knew Sebastian was going to be there. He's the one that invited us and while it bothered me seeing Blaine spend time with him tonight, Blaine insisted Sebastian is just a friend. The fight happened out in the parking lot when we were leaving. Blaine was drunk, like he was at Rachel's party, and when I was trying to get him into the backseat of my car he . . ." I let the sentence trail off remembering whom it was I was talking to. Finn had come a long way since that argument the first time our two families had tried living together. Still, I knew that some aspects of my sexuality made him uncomfortable and I was pretty sure that Blaine wanting to have sex with me in the back seat of the car would be one of those aspects.
"Keep going," Finn encouraged, in a tone that told me he had an idea of where this was going but was trying to be supportive.
"He pulled me into the car with him, wanting to . . ." I tried to think of a tactful way to put things that wouldn't embarrass the both of us. "He wanted to take our relationship further than we've gone previously and I didn't want to. At least not in the parking lot of a gay bar under those circumstances."
I could remember the sensation of Blaine reaching for my belt buckle. Feel the panic once again.
"And I know he was drunk, and sober he would never try to force me into doing something I wasn't comfortable with, but I felt panicked as I scrambled away from him. And perhaps I wouldn't have given it any more thought if nothing had happened later but things did and I realized that Blaine's stronger than I and if he had been sober and acting like that, or if he had been able to get me down onto that seat, I don't think I could have held him off."
I felt the tears threatening to fall again, and I bit my lower lip trying to get control again. A few moments later, feeling marginally calmer, I continued. "I don't like that feeling. I shouldn't have to feel unsafe with my boyfriend whether he is drunk or sober . . ."
As the words get choked up again, I'm aware of Finn taking the glass from my hands and placing it on the coffee table before scooting closer to me.
"You're right, you shouldn't have to," Finn says as he rests his hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry that you were put into that position and I think maybe that's something you need to talk to Blaine about."
I shake my head. The only place I can see that conversation going is another fight.
"Kurt, if you're going to stay with him he needs to know because if Blaine cares about you, and one fight doesn't mean that he doesn't, then he'll help figure out a way to not put you in that position again. And if he doesn't then he's not worth it."
I draw my knees up, wrapping my arms around them. Finn's assurances aren't helping right now. All I can see in my head is Blaine saying he's walking home. I don't even know if he made it home. Though our argument seemed to sober him up some, I knew how much he had to drink tonight. I shouldn't have let him walk home. I wouldn't have if not for . . .
"Hey there hot stuff. Have a fight with your boyfriend?"
I whirl around from the back door of my Navigator that I had just slammed shut to find a stranger standing way to close to me for my comfort. The stranger is about six inches taller than I, broad shouldered, and isn't even a good-looking guy, though his body language clearly sends out the message that he thinks he is.
"Just a misunderstanding," I reply, reaching out for the door handle of the driver's door. I have a bad feeling about the situation and just want to get away from the place.
"Well, I'm sure it's all his fault," the stranger says, his hand covering mine and keeping me from pulling the car door open.
I can sense how strong the guy is just in that one gesture. I try pulling my hand out from under his but it's trapped there.
"You seem like a very understanding guy," the man is saying, moving closer to me, pinning me against my car with his body. He reaches up to caress my face with his hand. "You're probably the angel that you look like."
His words make me feel ill not flattered.
"I-I-I'm not interested. Just leave me alone," I managed to get out even as I struggle to free myself from him.
"Oh, I've got a feisty angel, who's playing hard to get," he says before pressing his lips against mine, his body that is now pressed up against mine revealing just how into this he is.
My stomach clenches in both fear and disgust. I didn't want to do this with my boyfriend tonight and me mostly certainly don't want my first time to be with some stranger.
"Get off me," I say as forcefully as I can, managing to get the hand that isn't still gripping the door handle up enough to push his face away from mine, breaking the kiss.
The stranger grabs my wrist and I can see the fury on his face. I wince in pain as he grips my wrist tightly and twists it away from him.
"Hey, back off, buddy," Karofsky says coming up behind the guy and pulling him away from me.
I've never been so happy to see Karofsky as I am right then as I take advantage of the situation and make a sprint for the bar. I want as much distance between me and the stranger as I can. I'm running so fast that I don't realize the front door is opening until it catches the left side of my face. I'm vaguely aware of some guys apologizing as I move past them and into the bar, heading for the restroom which is the only place I can think of at that moment that I can get any kind of privacy.
"Did you hurt your wrist too?"
Finn's question brings me out of my thoughts. It takes me a moment to realize that I'm rubbing my left wrist, the one the stranger had grabbed. Looking down I can see the faint bruise on it though it doesn't really hurt. And then Finn's hands are holding my wrist as he examines it for himself.
"It's fine. It's just a bruise. It doesn't hurt."
Finn looks up from my wrist, though he doesn't let go of it, and looks straight at me. "Kurt, if Blaine didn't touch you then what happened tonight?"
I sigh. I don't want to relive it again but he deserves to know, so I start recounting the events from Blaine storming off.
"I was still hiding in a bathroom stall when Karofsky finally found me. He walked me out to my car and I came home," I finished, staring at the coffee table, not daring to look up at Finn.
"I never thought Karofsky would be the one coming to your rescue," Finn commented.
"It sounds like it," Finn says. "It's getting late. Maybe you should try to get some sleep."
I shake my head. Somehow the prospect of going up to my bedroom alone doesn't appeal to me. I'd much rather stay down here where I know Finn is nearby. "I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight."
Finn doesn't reply right away. For a moment I think he's going to get up and head upstairs himself. Finn isn't always the most perceptive guy and it wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't get my unspoken need to have someone I trust nearby right now.
But then Finn picks up the throw pillow between him on the couch arm and scoots all the way to the end of the couch, placing the pillow against the side of his leg.
"Come here," he tells me holding his arm open.
It isn't long before I'm laying down, head resting on the pillow. Finn's one hand is laying protectively on my arm and I'm feeling safe once more. I feel as if even the memories can't touch me right now.
"I don't even know if Blaine got home okay," I say softly, not sure if my words are even high enough for Finn to hear them.
I can sense movement from Finn but I don't move to see what he is doing. And then I can hear the soft beeps from his cell phone.
"Hey Blaine, it's Finn," my stepbrother is saying shortly later. At that moment I couldn't have loved my stepbrother anymore. He gets things when it really counts. "Just wanted to make sure you got home okay."
There is a short pause, part of me wishing that Finn had put the phone on the speaker so I could hear Blaine's voice.
"That's good. Kurt will be glad to hear that," Finn says into the phone. "Yeah, Kurt's home. He's right here with me." Another short pause. "Yeah, I'll tell him. Night, Blaine."
Finn ends the call and places the cell phone on the coffee table. "He told me to tell you he still loves you and that he wants to talk after he's sobered up," Finn tells me.
The simple message is a relief to hear. Everything that has happened tonight, the thought of losing Blaine for good would be just too much. But he wants to talk. I have a chance to make something right out of this fiasco of the night.
"I really made a mess of tonight."
"Kurt, tonight isn't all your fault, you realize that don't you?"
"How isn't it? I'm the reason we were there in the first place. I'm the one that turned Blaine away. If I hadn't that guy wouldn't have -"
"Hold it right there. The only thing I'm allowing you to take any blame for tonight is trying to be someone who you aren't. Blaine getting drunk isn't your fault. Blaine hanging with Sebastian is not your fault. You have every right to wait until you're ready to have sex and if Blaine really loves you he will respect that. And what happened with that guy in the parking lot is definitely not your fault."
"Thanks Finn, I needed to hear that," I reply, even though right now it's hard to convince myself that it wasn't my fault. That I hadn't inadvertently given the guy some idea that I was interested earlier in the night.
The house has fallen silent again. It's Finn that breaks the silence a few minutes later.
"Want me to turn the TV on?" Finn asked.
"Yeah," I reply.
Finn finds some late night action movie on, and it isn't long before I find even the sounds of it fading away as sleep claims me.